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Business / Construction and Maintenance

Flexible offices don’t always score better than traditional offices

Offices with flexible workstations usually score better on the aspects of architecture, light and atmosphere and appearance than traditional offices. They perform significantly less when it comes to more functional aspects of the working environment. Like concentrating and having a chat with your colleagues. This is evident from the WODI workplace benchmark 2017, provided by the Center for People and Buildings (CfPB).

Traditional cell offices

Traditional cell offices are boringon looks and very much outdated these days but perform better when it comes to things like your focus, privacy, acoustics and archive capabilities. The combi office with fixed workstations in an open paln combines the best of the two worlds and is classed as most pleasant, according to the benchmark. But it is also an expensive solution.


The outcome in the research anout the communication possibilities that open plan flexible offices give are rather surprising. Open flex spaces do not stimulate the mutual social connections. After all, it is generally assumed that openness is positively linked to the communication possibilities. That turns out not to be the case, according to the CfPB. A possible explanation could be that you are in an open plan work environment you may not go to a colleague fot a chat, because then you may disturb other colleagues. And collaboration and break-out areas are not always available close to the workstation. Another explanation could be that team work becomes more difficult because people no longer sit together.

Another striking result concerns productivity. If the assessment of the respondents is true then organizations who have switched to agile working themselves should be somewhat concerned. Cells offices score an average of 10 percent higher on self-reported individual productivity and 7 percent better on self-reported team productivity.


The results of the research on the degree of satisfaction with the working environment do not quite match at the results of the utilization rate measurements. Judging from the limited satisfaction with flex offices you would expect it to be overcrowded, especially on peak days. However, the mean peak office occupancy is still slightly below the 70%.

Why that dissatisfaction?According to the researchers the following plays a role: 

  • The acoustics remains cumbersome, even if the office is not full
  • If they don’t arrive early enough in the Office, people may not be able to sit at their preferred place (this is where the agile working app may come in)
  • On busy days, people must reside  to places that don’t comform the  health & safety standards
  • On busy days some of the people cannot find a place at or near their own department. Certainly for policy and project work this is a serious disadvantage
  • Certain personality types function find it difficult to work in an open paln office environment